At the beginning of April of this year, USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) announced that it would be accepting applications for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program. This project provides as much as $10 million in funding for citizenship preparation programs. These programs are found in communities across the country.
The Citizenship and Integration Grant Program is known to be a “competitive grant opportunity for public or non-profit organizations, which promotes immigrant civic integration and prepares residents for citizenship.” The applications are due to USCIS by May 16.
Through this specific program, USCIS is able to work towards expanding the availability of exceptional citizenship preparation services. Grants are provided to agencies and organizations that offer both instruction and application services to permanent residents.
It is estimated that USCIS will give out as many as 40 grants in the fall. USCIS has given out approximately $33 million in grants to over 180 recipients since 2009. More than 78,000 permanent residents throughout the country have benefitted from services provided for by these recipient-organizations.
(1) Citizenship Instruction: This is necessary to prepare permanent residents for the civics and English portions of the naturalization test. The organization must use a “nationally normed standardized test of English proficiency to place and assess students.” Also, the agency must also provide a minimum of at least 40 hours of citizenship instruction over an 8-15 week class cycle for students who are below the NRS (National Reporting System) high beginning level and at least 24 hours of citizenship instruction over an 8-15 week class for the other students. There must be a minimum of 200 permanent residents enrolled in citizenship instruction classes over the two-year period of performance. Each teacher that is employed with the program, whether classified as volunteer or paid, must have at least one year of experience in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) or citizenship to adults.
(2) Naturalization Application Services: Here, the organization applying for a grant must be able to show that it provides naturalization eligibility screening; prepare and submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization and Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative; and ongoing case management. Also, the organization must prepare and submit a minimum of 200 naturalization applications over the two-year period or performance.
As stated above, the organization must have a public or nonprofit status. This will include, but is not limited to the following types of organizations:
- Public or private nonprofit organizations
- Public school systems, universities and community colleges
- Public Civic, community and faith-based organizations
- Adult-education organizations
- Public libraries
- Volunteer and literacy organizations
- State and local governments
If you have questions about your immigration status or are seeking legal representation with regards to another immigration matter, do not hesitate to contact my office and we can schedule a free, initial consultation.